Parents, Advocates in Washington Heights Urge State Leaders to Exempt School-Based Health Centers from Further Budget Cuts

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Parents and community members to present Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat with letters asking Albany leaders to maintain current funding for health resources in schools

Contact:
Downstate Chapter, New York State Coalition for School-Based Health Centers
Lorraine Tiezzi, Chair, Citywide Coalition, 212-304-5241
David Appel, Chair, Statewide Coalition, 718-696-4057
Beverly Colon, member, Steering Committee, 212-949-4958

NEW YORK, November 13, 2008 – Washington Heights parents, community members and advocates gathered today in the office of Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat to present him with over 2,000 letters addressed to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos requesting that school-based health centers be exempt from additional state budget cuts.

The letters, signed by parents whose children attend schools in Washington Heights with school-based health centers (SBHCs), will be delivered to the legislative leaders by Assemblymember Espaillat, who considers this a key issue for his community and has expressed his support for maintaining these vital school health resources in the community he represents. Over 1,000 letters to Governor David A. Paterson were sent to Albany earlier.

Participating today were Assemblymember Espaillat, Beverly Colon; Steering Committee member, the NYS Coalition for School-Based Health Centers;Adria Cruz-Peña, School Health Services Manager for The Children’s Aid Society; Lorraine Tiezzi, Chair, Citywide Coalition for School-Based Health Centers; a representative from State Senator Eric Schneiderman’s office; and parents whose children use school-based health centers at schools in Washington Heights.

Benefits of school-based health centers
School-based health centers – health centers located inside public schools – offer many benefits to the students they serve. The SBHCs reduce absenteeism; they reduce the need to send students to emergency rooms, (saving money and time for parents and the city and state); SBHCs help students manage chronic diseases (such as asthma and diabetes) and greatly improve their well-being; SBHCs save money for thecity and state!!

School-based health centers serve students regardless of insurance and immigration status. They provide medical, dental and mental health services. Their location in the schools means that staff have frequent contact with the patients, and can develop trusting relationships with them. When schools have SBHCs, students do not have to miss days of school for doctor visits, and parents do not have to miss days of work (likely losing pay) to take them.

A Statewide Coalition for School-Based Health Centers has been informing citizens and legislators of the benefits of these health facilities inside schools.

“Schools are where the children are, all day every day. How better to serve the students’ health needs, especially those who otherwise don’t have access to health care because they are uninsured or are newly arrived immigrants?” said Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat. “During these very difficult financial times, low income children and their families need more services, not less. Many of the young people in this community lack health insurance and face worsening of common illnesses like asthma and diabetes. Our local SBHCs are often the only source of health screenings and health care services, mental health counseling, and immunizations for these children & adolescents.”

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